Death row inmates file lawsuit to avoid electric chair

Death row inmates file lawsuit to avoid electric chair (Image 1)

A lawsuit filed Friday from attorneys representing death row inmates called the electric chair an “unconstitutional torture device.”

Eleven inmates who are scheduled for executions between October 2014 and March 2016 joined the lawsuit in an effort to make sure they do not face the electric chair.

Kelley Henry filed the lawsuit on behalf of five Tennessee inmates at the Riverbend Maximum Security Institution.

“When the electric chair does what it’s supposed to do, it literally cooks the internal organs,” said Henry.

Daryl Holton is referenced in the lawsuit. He was the last Tennessee convict executed by electric chair in 2007.

Public defenders looked at pictures and autopsy results before the lawsuit was filed.

“Mr. Holton himself suffered torture as a result of the Tennessee State electric chair which is most relevant because that’s the information that should have been considered by the legislature when they were considering this bill,” explained Henry.

House Republican Caucus Chair Glen Casada and 90 percent of the state legislature voted for a bill earlier this year to bring back the electric chair.

“If we lose that chemical combination that we now currently use, if that goes away then unless we pass this bill there is no alternative so the electric chair allows for that,” Casada told News 2.

A judge will hear arguments on September 12 and will decide whether to allow the challenge to move forward.

Dennis Powers, the state representative who sponsored the bill, told News 2 the death penalty and the electric chair have not been declared unconstitutional.

He said he is confident the legislation will stand in court.


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